France has become the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness.

Health minister Roselyne Bachelot announced in May last year, before International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), that the country would move to de-list the condition as a mental illness.

A government decree on Wednesday confirmed the change.

Although France has made the move, the World Health Organisation and the American Psychiatric Association continue to list the condition as a mental illness, rather than a medical condition.

However, trans advocates hope this will encourage them to follow suit.

“France is the first country in the world that does not consider transexualism a mental illness,” Joël Bedos, the French representative of IDAHO, told AFP last week.

In December, the second International Experts’ Meeting on HIV Prevention for MSM, WSW [men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women] and Transgenders called for transgenderism to be classified as a medical disorder, to help trans people avoid the stigma of mental illness.

Medical opinion once held that homosexuality was a mental illness. It was removed from the list of mental disorders by the World Health Organisation in 1990.